Biodiesel Conference Blog

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End of 2009 Coverage

NBB conference 09 endThis will conclude our coverage of the 2009 National Biodiesel Conference in San Francisco.

All of the posted audio from the conference is now available in podcast form for subscriber downloading by clicking here. There are a total of 17 audio podcast files this year including interviews, presentations and press conferences.

There are over 450 photos in the Flicker Photo album and over 30 posts so far from the conference, as well as a few videos.

Hope you enjoyed the coverage this year. Join us next year from Grapevine, Texas for the 2010 National Biodiesel Conference.

Evening with Emily and Company

NBB 09 Emily, Jason and ChuckWednesday’s reception was billed as an Evening With Emily Richards but the crowd got more than their money’s worth as they were entertained by many talented musicians. Emily is just incredible by herself, with amazing pipes and keyboard skills, and she has been appearing at the National Biodiesel Conference since 2004.

She was accompanied once again this year by guitarist and vocalist Jason Brock. Together they joined Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell during his set for a rendition of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” which I unfortunately did not commit to video.

However, I did get a recording of Emily and Joe Jobe (Piano Lady and Harmonica Man) doing Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” to rave reviews from the crowd. Joe is a man of many talents.

Watch them perform here:

NBB 09 Ed heglandNBB 09 Joe JobeLater in the evening, NBB chairman Ed Hegland grabbed a guitar and revealed his musical talent as well. He sang a very funny tune called “All Right Guy” which also unfortunately missed being preserved for posterity’s sake to YouTube.

Both Ed and Joe teamed up for a few impromptu numbers before letting Emily and Jason have the spotlight back. All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening with Emily and Company.

No word yet on when Joe and Ed will be leaving their day jobs and going on tour!

2009 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

City of St. Francis Gets Even Greener

NBB 09 San FranciscoThe patron saint of the city by the bay must be proud of its incredible environmental achievements. That would be St. Francis of Assisi, of course, who is the patron saint of all things environmental.

The last award to be presented at the National Biodiesel Conference was the Initiative award, given to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. In this largest known city in the world to use B20 fleet-wide, the mayor has had a lot to do with that. In 2006, he issued an Executive Directive designed to increase the pace of municipal use of biodiesel. Today, virtually all of the City’s 1,500 diesel vehicles run on B20.

To top it off, as the conference wrapped up on Wednesday, the National Biodiesel Board celebrated SFGreasecycle, the City of San Francisco’s program to turn waste oil into biodiesel. The innovative program was awarded $1.2 million to break ground for brown-grease-to-biodiesel fuel production, and to build a toolkit that will serve as a blueprint for cities nationwide interested in replicating the program.

St. Francis is smiling down on his city!

2009 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

To Infineon and Beyond

NBB 09 Ed HeglandOne of the pre-conference highlights for the National Biodiesel Conference in San Francisco was “Racecar Driver for a Day.”

NBB Chairman Ed Hegland was among those who suited up at the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma to fly around the track in a 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Racing Series vehicle and he absolutely loved the experience. “I got to do a couple of laps around the track and it was a real thrilling ride,” Ed said. “In fact, I got in line again after everyone else was done and did it again – I couldn’t get enough.”

B5 will be the official fuel of the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Racing Series and Ed says they are fortunate to be able to be working with a company like Volkswagen. Ed also got to drive one of the VW Jetta wagons up to the speedway. “That was an awful lot of fun, it really had a lot of get-up-and-go,” Ed says. “As the younger generation is wanting to be more green and environmentally friendly, it just seems like a perfect match.”

2009 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Optimism for Biodiesel Market

NBB 09 AwardsThe future for biodiesel is brighter than some might think right now in this economy, according to officials with Renewable Energy Group (REG).

Jon Scharingson with REG gave an overview about the potential for biodiesel during the National Biodiesel Conference this week. “We’re pretty optimistic about the development of the biodiesel market in the US for 2009,” Jon says. “We think about 300 million gallons were consumed in the U.S. in 2008 and we expect that to double in 2009.”

He says a couple of factors will drive that growth, including the Renewable Fuels Standard and the Obama administration.

Listen to an interview with Jon here: [audio:]

2009 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel Governing Board

NBB 09 BoardMembers of the National Biodiesel Board governing board were recognized during the final session of the biodiesel conference in San Francisco Wednesday for their support and leadership of the organization and the industry.

They include – from left to right – Chairman Ed Hegland, Vice-Chairman Gary Haer, Ed Ulch, Greg Anderson, Darryl Brinkmann, Greg Hopkins, Kris Kappenman, Denny Mauser, Doug Smith, Robert Stobaugh, Jeffrey Trucksess, and David Womack. Hopefully, I got them all right, but please correct me if I didn’t!

I had a chance to interview both the Chairman and Vice Chairman about their thoughts on the conference, the state of the industry and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for biodiesel.

I talked with Chairman Ed Hegland, who is a soybean grower from Minnesota who serves on his state’s Soybean Research and Promotion Council, during our Red and White cruise on the bay and we discussed a number of issues. Among them – the announcement at the conference about Volkswagen using biodiesel in 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Racing Series, how San Francisco is a leader in biodiesel use, and how the stars who support biodiesel use help the industry.

Listen to my interview with Ed Hegland here: [audio:]

Vice Chairman Gary Haer with Renewable Energy Group (REG) sees lots of opportunities for biodiesel in the future, especially in the area of feedstock development and increasing oil content from soybeans. He also talked about support for biodiesel in the new administration and what the biodiesel board is doing in terms of prioritizing programs for the future.

Listen to my interview with Gary Haer here: [audio:]

2009 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

More to Come

NBB 09 BridgeI have lots more interviews to post, but right now I have to head out to catch a plane back to the frigid Midwest – leaving my heart in beautiful San Francisco!

Until I can get more posts up, please enjoy the 455 photos in the album – that has been updated through the final general session.

Stay tuned – more to come from the 2009 National Biodiesel Conference!

2009 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel Inspiration and Pioneer Awards

NBB 09 AwardsTwo of the last awards to be presented at the National Biodiesel Conference Wednesday were given for Inspiration and industry Pioneer.

As the Inspiration award winners, Bryan Peterson and Pete Bethune shared their inspiring stories with the conference this morning. Fourteen years ago Bryan Peterson made his way around the world in a small boat powered by a little-known fuel at the time – biodiesel. He completed the 35,000 mile, 2 year trip in a boat called Sunrider. Peterson’s successful adventure generated some of the earliest news on biodiesel, and it paved the way for a world record last year. New Zealander Pete Bethune made headlines for breaking the world speed record for circumnavigating the globe in his Earthrace expedition in 60 days. Both men’s biodiesel message circumnavigated the globe with them.

Listen to an interview with Bryan and Pete here: [audio:]

In addition, the NBB presented the Pioneer Award – a special honor to an individual or group who has served the industry – to Kenlon Johannes, the first Executive Director of the National SoyDiesel Development Board, which later would become the NBB. Johannes, a soybean farmer when he represented the board, continues to promote biodiesel through the Kansas Soybean Commission.

Listen to an interview with Kenlon here: [audio:]

2009 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Rolling Stone Rocks for Biodiesel

NBB 09 Chuck LeavellA highlight of the last evening of the National Biodiesel Conference was an appearance by Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell, sponsored by New Holland.

Chuck is not just an awesome keyboard player, he is also an avid environmentalist, a tree farmer and a proponent of biofuels. He also recently started the Mother Nature Network, which just launched last month and features environmental news and information “that makes sense.”

Chuck says it was a great pleasure to engage with people who are excited about the changes coming in energy usage. “I’m here to tip my hat to the biodiesel industry,” Chuck said.

Listen to an interview with Chuck here: [audio:]

2009 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Red and White and Green All Over

NBB 09 Red and WhiteFounded in 1892, the historic Red and White Fleet is legendary for its premiere San Francisco Cruises. Family owned, the Red and White Fleet is committed to environmental sustainability and community education – and to that end the cruises run on B20.

NBB 09 Red and WhiteThe fleet sponsored a trip for biodiesel board members and the media to tell how and why they chose to run their boats on biodiesel. Joe Burgard is vice president of operations for the Red and White Fleet. In this interview, he talks about why it is so important to them to make a difference by using this environmentally-friendly fuel.

Listen to Joe’s interview here: [audio:]

2009 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Many Shades of Green

NBB 09 Sustainability SessionBeing green for the biodiesel industry doesn’t just mean producing a renewable, alternative fuel. It means being green in many other ways as well.

For example, one of the presenters at the conference this year wasn’t actually on site here in San Francisco. North Dakota Governor John Hoeven presented his remarks via remote telecast through a technology called LifeSize, which the National Biodiesel Board is utilizing in its new Jefferson City, Missouri and Washington DC offices to help save travel costs, which ultimately reduces their environmental footprint. NBB Chairman Ed Hegland is shown here on stage talking with Governor Hoeven, who is also the chairman of the Governors Biofuels Coalition.

The new office in Missouri is green in many other ways, such as remodeling an old office building rather than bulldozing new property and using recycled material carpeting. And of course, the National Biodiesel Conference itself is once again this year committed to being green by recycling and using only biodegradable supplies and materials wherever possible.

2009 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Indirect Land Use Challenge

NBB 09 O'ConnorLife cycle analyst Don O’Connor presented some of his assessments of indirect land use and how it could impact the biodiesel industry during Tuesday’s general session at the National Biodiesel Conference.

O’Conner says that life cycle assessment is a very challenging and complicated process. “The first thing that is important is that life cycle analysis needs to be relative,” O’Connor said. “The question for alternative fuels is should we be compared against the average of all petroleum or against the incremental or marginal supply of petroleum, and that is one of the issues that is not being properly addressed.”

Another big issue is transparency and a third issue he addressed was the priority of scientific approach. He believes that the bottom line is that there is lots of potential for increasing the amounts of soybeans or rapeseed being produced in the world on the same amount of land and the United States can be a leader for other nations to do so.

Listen to O’Connor’s presentation here: [audio:]

2009 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Sustainability Task Force Update

NBB 09 EmilyThis time last year, Emily Bockian Landsburg with Philadelphia Fry-o-Diesel was just appointed as chairman of the newly-approved Sustainability Task Force for the biodiesel industry. There were no other members and just a vague idea of what they hoped to accomplish.

This year, Emily stood before the conference to provide an update on what the task force has accomplished in the past year – and it was pretty significant. The task force, which represents a cross-section of the industry, has held a conference call every Wednesday afternoon since they were assembled in April. “The task force undertook many initiatives,” said Emily. “We launched websites, started a coalition with strategic non-profits and academics, we created an on-line sustainability discussion group.”

The first order of business was a definition of sustainability, which Emily outlined as having three components – environmental stewardship, economic prosperity, and quality of life – “this is sometimes called the triple bottom line,” she said. “People, Planet and Profit.”

Listen to Emily’s presentation here: [audio:]

2009 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Emphasis on Sustainability Pleases Daryl Hannah

NBB 09 Daryl HannahActress and activist Daryl Hannah has been a fixture at the National Biodiesel Conference since the very beginning and one of her major areas of interest when it comes to renewable fuels and the environmental is sustainability, so she was thrilled with the sustainable theme during today’s general session at the conference.

“I’ve been bringing that up every year and been a thorn in everybody’s side,” Daryl told me in an interview. “I’m really glad to see NBB embracing it. We just need to step it up.”

Daryl says she takes time every year to come to this conference because biodiesel is such an important part and can be such an amazing player in creating a self-sufficient world. “It holds the promise of a sane reality and a liveable world and I want it to fulfill that dream so desperately and that’s why I come to say it can be done,” she said.

Listen to my interview with Daryl here: [audio:]

2009 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel is the Only One for Melissa Etheridge

NBB 09 Melissa EtheridgeSinger/song writer Melissa Etheridge has been a hit maker for two decades with songs like “I’m the Only One,” “Like the Way I Do,” “Breathe,” and “Bring Me Some Water.” Today, she was a certified hit at the National Biodiesel Conference with her inspirational story of how her battle with breast cancer led her to want to make a difference in the world and how she believes biodiesel is helping.

Etheridge was extremely gracious and generous with her time at the conference – which was not a paid gig, by the way. She not only shared her story, she also entertained with two songs – “What Happens Tomorrow” and “I Need to Wake Up,” her Oscar-winning theme song from “An Inconvenient Truth.” In addition, she took time for a press conference, individual interviews and lots of photos with fans.

NBB 09 Melissa EtheridgeShe started using biodiesel after a chance meeting with Willie Nelson on a plane a few years ago. That led to her starting to use biodiesel in all of her tour buses and trucks, as well as in her own personal vehicle, a Ford diesel Excursion that she fills with biodiesel in her own garage. “When I pick my kids up from school they tell me, ‘Mom we can smell you coming half way down the block,” Melissa told the crowd at the conference today.

Her vehicle is covered with biodiesel stickers and she has become a one-on-one advocate for the fuel in her own personal life. “Any diesel engine can run on biodiesel,” she emphasizes to people. “When it finally sunk in to me that the diesel engine was meant to run on peanut oil or vegetable oil, I realized that all of the troubles that we are having now with the petroleum industry could be avoided.”

She says that when she saw the plane that safely landed on the Hudson River last month and everyone got out safely, it was a sign to her. “We are all going to get out of this alive, we’re gonna do it,” she said.

For her efforts and enthusiasm, Etheridge received this year’s Influence award from the National Biodiesel Board, presented to her by NBB CEO Joe Jobe and Daryl Hannah.

Listen to Melissa’s comments here: [audio:]

2009 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

It’s Cool to be Green

NBB 09 EcoJetThis fast and fancy concept car belongs to Tonight show host Jay Leno and it runs on 100 percent biodiesel.

Steve Hofmann with Jay Leno’s Garage in Burbank is here at the National Biodiesel Conference with the Eco-Jet – showing it off to expo attendees and explaining just why it exists. “Jay has a keen interest in technology,” Steve told me. “This car in particular started off as a jet-powered car that would be really cool and has involved into a green car project in that it runs on biodiesel.”

“We thought while we’re doing a jet turbine engine, why not take advantage of some of the ecological benefits of biodiesel – it’s cleaner burning, domestically produced, renewable and doesn’t have any of that nasty stuff that’s associated with fossil fuels.”

The car has been test driven and hypothetically can go up to 220 miles per hour. “Because its a street legal car we do have to stay within the law,” said Steve.

Listen to my interview with Steve here: [audio:]

2009 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

VW Motorsports to be Fueled with Biodiesel

NBB 09 VW RaceThe biggest announcement at the National Biodiesel Conference today was that B5 will be the official fuel of the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Racing Series.

The series is designed for young people seeking to become professional race car drivers – the “next generation of motorsports.” According to the VW Motorsport website site, the competition involves “30 young drivers racing 30 identical Clean Diesel racecars as they compete to win $100,000 in the world’s
first green racing series.”

, a national supplier of race fuels, biodiesel, additives, and lubricants, has been selected as the official fuel sponsor. Approximately 3,192 gallons of B5 will be used to fuel the diesel race cars as well as the transport trucks and generators throughout the series.

2009 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Daryl Steals the Showcase

NBB 09 Daryl's El CaminoThere were lots of vehicles on display at the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase, but the one that stole the show was actress Daryl Hannah’s beloved El Camino – mainly because Daryl was there herself to show it off.

NBB 09 Darryl HannahDaryl, who is a huge biodiesel fan and an avid environmentalist, says this is her second biodiesel-powered El Camino. “My car loves to drink vegetable oil, especially if it’s from waste. I only use sustainably-sourced biodiesel.” Daryl said.

This is the sixth year that Daryl has been at the National Biodiesel Conference and her passion for the fuel and the industry has grown with every year. She is actively involved now in the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance focusing on the benefits of a sustainable, local model for biodiesel in the United States in order to maintain local energy and economic security.

Watch a little video here of the introduction to the vehicle showcase with Daryl’s commentary on her car:

2009 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Two Industry Partnership Awards

NBB 09 RandallNational Biodiesel Board Vice Chairman Gary Haer (right) with Renewable Energy Group (REG) had the pleasure of presenting this year’s Industry Partnership Awards to fuel quality program managers in two states – Ronald Hayes (left) of Missouri and Randy Jennings (center) from Tennessee.

“The award is going to two people who have really made a difference in our quality efforts,” said Haer. “These two gentlemen have led their states in ‘best in class’ quality enforcement programs that serve as a model for other states to adopt.”

In addition, Hayes and Jennings have been working with the National Conference on Weights and Measures and ASTM International to develop and enforce standards for biodiesel.

2009 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

NBB Impact Award Winner

NBB 09 RandallThe winner of this year’s Impact Award from the National Biodiesel Board is Dr. Randall von Wedel of CytoCulture International, who has been instrumental in San Francisco’s biodiesel development.

He helped to narrate a city tour video that was shown at the conference this morning, and moderated the panel discussion with the San Francisco city leaders. NBB CEO Joe Jobe says Dr. von Wedel was being recognized for his “energy, enthusiasm and development work” on behalf of biodiesel.

Joe related how Randall excitedly called him ten years ago saying, “I’m following the truck down the road, it’s going to UC Davis, it’s the first commercial (biodiesel) fleet in the state!”

“I can honestly say this man has been working on biodiesel since the last millennium,” Joe said as he presented Randall with the award.

2009 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album